DNA tests prove 41-year-old Mortimer Saunders first raped 3-year-old Courtney Pieters then killed her

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The semen of alleged child killer Mortimer Saunders was found on little Courtney Pieters.
Blood was also found on the child’s jeans, but not enough for a positive DNA profile.

Saunders, 41, has already confessed that he poisoned the three-year-old girl because he had “issues” with her mother but denies raping her.

Instead, he claims after penetrating her dead body with his fingers, he became “aroused” and placed his erect penis on her body but did not ejaculate.

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State prosecutor, Esmeralda Cecil, would not accept these admissions and intends to prove that Courtney was raped and that her murder was premeditated.

Forensic analyst, Luthando Tiya, testified on Thursday that physical evidence was collected from Courtney and Saunders.

He conceded he did not do the tests himself but did an analysis when tests were completed.

“When I am done, someone as qualified or more qualified than I am will check if all processes have been followed,” he said.

Tiya said he had found a positive match of the accused’s semen on the top worn by Courtney on the day she died.

DNA samples were also taken from the deceased’s right thigh, her denim shorts and vaginal vault.

“The jeans had a bloody crotch. The right thigh swab was not bloody, but tested positive after preliminary semen testing,” Tiya testified.

People in court were on the edge of their seats and looked shocked as Tiya appeared to confirmed their worst fears, that the little girl had been raped before she was killed.

Saunders sat biting his nails as the DNA expert read details from several reports.

Tiya said Courtney’s second right thigh swab tested positive for male DNA, that of Saunders.

Under cross-examination, defence attorney Mornay Calitz asked Tiya if “precum” could test positive for DNA.

Precum or pre-ejaculate is a clear, colourless fluid that is emitted from the penis during sexual arousal before ejaculation.

Tiya said this was impossible: “Only ejaculation brings semen and it is in semen that the DNA can be proven.”

The State asked for a postponement as Tiya was their last expert witness and they are preparing their civilian witnesses.

Judge Pearl Mantame then asked the accused to stand and asked if he understood that he was to be back at court by 10am on Tuesday.

Saunders, dressed in a new bottle-green jacket said loudly, “Yes Ma’am.”

As he left the dock, people in the gallery heckled, “Morty, Morty, hoe voel jy nou?”

Saunders looked up for a moment before hurrying down to the holding cells.

Courtney went missing from her Elsies River home on 4 May 2017 and her body was found nine days later on a veldjie in Epping Industria.


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